Saturday, December 15, 2007


The horses are weathering our first big snow quite happily. I have fewer aches and pains because my husband is home for this strenuous event. Last year, he serendipitously missed every major storm because he was on the road, working. This time, I had to go into the city on the day it really dumped, and he had to do all the heavy shoveling and hauling on his own. He was so glad to see me when I got home. I think he had a revelation about what I had actually been through last winter.

The horses played in the snow for a while yesterday, but their legs got cold. They are still California princesses, so they came over to the pasture gate and stood there to let me know that they were ready to go back into their cozy stalls. My biggest problem is the front corral where there’s still some water and mucho mud under the snow. We resolved to fix the drainage out there, but somehow never got around to it.

In the “you say potato, I say potaaa-toe” part of our relationship, my husband believes in clearing the snow so that the ground shows. I believe that leaving a thin layer of snow a couple of inches thick makes it less slippery for both man and horse. Since he did the shoveling, it is now treacherously icy on the paths to the barn and the pasture. I remind myself that my back is not the least bit sore and I can stand up straight, so maybe I can adjust to making my way through a slippery spot or two.

I was wondering this morning as I opened the stall doors and fed the horses whether they happier living here in New England or in California. The winters out West were severe too, with heavy rain and mud and more mud. They had shelter, but not a fully enclosed warm barn with fluffy shavings. I decided that they like it better here. Then, I realized that they would like it anywhere, as long as they were living with me, my husband and my daughter.


LJB said...

I have become cautious about how snow cover I remove for the reasons you indicate. Lately, when the forecast has said freezing rain, I leave snow on the walkway and the vehicles, too. When the temperatures are due to be in the low to mid 30s, I'll shovel down to the concrete or anything dark I can find so there is thawing and we end up with clear walkways again. Then it snows again. Quite a winter already!

My horses know little of any fluffy stalls and enjoy being out all the time. Now and then I notice one or two half into a run in, but mostly they are wandering around when they are not eating hay or snoozing in the snow.

I guess we're due for some more snow tonight!

Arlene said...

I am sure your girls like it better here in Connecticut. Who wouldn't enjoy romping in the snow, instead of slogging through mud. I'm sure a warm barn with fluffy shavings, and a family who loves them is the best thing in the world to your princesses. They are a pair of lucky girls.

Victoria Cummings said...

With all this ice, I'm feeling very nervous about this winter. We've managed to get through two years of fairly mild weather here. If either of you - or anyone else- has any advice about how to best deal with icy snow, please let me know. Just getting from the barn to the pasture and back today was a slippery experience!

Arlene said...

For icy conditions, we usually put down vermiculite which you can get in the hardware stores,and sand is always a classic,also they sell ice grippers for the bottom of your shoes that come on and off easily, the name is Yaktrax Pro Ice Gripper. They help to keep you from sliding and falling.You can buy them at Sports Authority. How about using a sort of stick like a shepherds crook, to give you some stability,if you can pierce the snow with it and use it for balance, that might help. I don't mind the snow, but I despise the ice. My daughter hit a patch on the way out of the barn, and went down on her butt, between two horses she was turning out, so as she sat there holding the reins in each hand, they looked at her as if to say, " are you kidding us, what are you doing down there". They waited patiently for her to get up and all proceeded on their way to the pasture.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for the ice tips, Arlene - I have a pair of Yaktrax and they are fantastic. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter fell, but better her than one of the horses. My husband ran the tractor which has chains on the tires over the ice as it softened. It worked like a charm, giving some more traction so two and four legged creatures can get a grip.

LJB said...

I spread cold ashes from the woodstove, wear ice cleats, and used to spread damp dirty shavings for traction before I lived with a woodstove. My ice cleats don't help the horses as much as the ashes or shavings do. The shavings however do act eventually as an insulator and slow down the spring thaw. I also use my own form of prayer -- praying for some warmer air and some fresh snow to stick to the icey stuff!

Tom said...

Thanks for the info about walking on ice. How do you handle letting horses out on icy pastures?

We have a majority of the pastue covered with ice from the recent cold spell. Ice and horses don't seem to go together.


Anonymous said...

Now, is that really true? The horses like New England better than California?

If so, then there is no reason for me to keep mine captive in California any longer.

I've been wanting to move back East for years, but didn't want my boys to get cold.

Enjoy reading your site.

Victoria Cummings said...

HI Tom and SM - I put the horses out in the pasture today after noon, when it had time to melt. We used a shovel to chop up the slick parts. Once we were able to chop it, we figured the weight of the horses would break the ice. They ran around a little since they didn't get out at all yesterday with all the rain we had. It's just the psychological need to move to another space other than the barn or the corral. The borium shoes are good - they help give them traction. BTW, we love California, but life is much easier for all of us here.